In this edition of There’s A Place In… Savi and Vid take us on a stroll of the beautiful streets of Marrakech. Savi and Vid have visited 37 countries together and run an offbeat travel and fashion blog at Bruised Passports. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
What drew you to Marrakech as a travel destination?
We visited Marrakech in February. Morocco’s warm weather and exotic souks drove us there. On getting there, we realised that Marrakech is an assault to the senses like no other place in the world.
There are tanneries on pavements, street artists in every corner, and vegetable vendors popping out of alleys. This makes it overwhelming for a lot of people, but we loved it. The place is full of energy- it’s all consuming, rich, and fruitful.
Describe your perfect day in this city.
We think a perfect day in the city would have to be spent at the Djema El Fnaa (the central square) – it is not a large area, but one needs time to absorb the energy that makes the city special.
We would spend the morning familiarising ourselves with gypsies, snake-charmers, wandering minstrels, magicians, folk-singers and ventriloquists that populate the square. We would have lunch at a street-side cafe facing the Djema El Fnaa and watch people go about their lives.
Next we would spend a leisurely afternoon strolling in the never-ending souks, chatting with the locals, visiting a tannery (not for the squeamish), and learning about exotic spices. The perfect evening would have to be spent in a terrace cafe at the Djema El Fnaa, sipping on Moroccan mint tea, or a local drink, inhaling the aroma wafting from the food market below.
What local foods can you recommend?
Food is definitely the highlight of a trip to Marrakech – it’s cheap, cheerful, and very tasty. On our first night there, we were offered snails, sheep’s head, and fried aubergines in the same breath.
We would recommend having a glass (or ten) of the orange juice from the carts lining Djema El Fnaa, a variety of tagine-based dishes at cafes dotting Marrakech, and tapas-style Moroccan food at the night market in Djema-El-Fnaa. If you’re craving something sweet, try Moroccan dates- they are scrumptious.
Tell us about the souks!
The labyrinthine souks of Marrakech were unlike anything we had ever seen before. They are the perfect amalgam of colour, energy, and vibrance. There’s nothing that isn’t sold here- perfumes, spices, bags, clothes, baskets, shawls, carpets, shoes, even safety pins.
It is easy to spent hours sauntering in the bamboo-covered souks- you are bound to get lost, but that is the fun of it. Shopkeepers occasionally pester tourists, but it is nothing a firm no can’t tackle. Our favourite was the potters’ souk- it is crammed full of brightly-coloured pots, pans, and tagines. If you’re a photographer this is the place for you.
Are there any side trips we can do?
If you visit Marrakech during summer months, then a day trip to the Atlas mountains provides a perfect reprieve from the heat. For the culturally inclined, the fortified city of Essaouira is 2.5 hours away by bus. It is also possible to do a desert safari in the Sahara if you have 2-3 days to spare. Don’t book your side trips in advance – get to Marrakech, find a travel agency, and bargain (it is the norm) to get the cheapest deal.
Lastly, what makes Marrakech stand out from other places you’ve travelled to?
Everything about Marrakech – old city walls, riads, crumbling palaces, noisy souks, skilled artisans – is unique. The ambience lends it a distinct character, which is different from both Asian and European capitals. Moroccan people are warm, and the food is amazing. This mélange makes Marrakech stand out from other places we’ve travelled to.
A big thank you to Savi and Vid for sharing their photos and experiences!